contentgrrl

I am conTENT. My work is CONtent.

Posts Tagged ‘training’

best ways to help adults learn difficult concepts through interactive design

Posted by contentgrrl on November 8, 2007

I know this doesn’t sound much like the “adult” way to learn, but…Let them PLAY!

When I worked for Creative Education Institute, a good portion of the target audience for the reading and math software was adult literacy programs. They may not seem like difficult concepts, but tell that to someone who can’t read or figure. The programs are very interactive, designed for specific cognitive goals. In the math program, manipulatives (like learning toys) are used in tandem with animation to teach basic operations including addition and division of fractions.

When I taught DOS way back when, one of my most effective lessons was having the students role-play parts of the computer during startup. It was fun, and they actually remembered the sequence.

w3schools.com has tons of Try It examples, where you can play with different HTML, CSS, and other script source code and see the results.

When I was at the SBC (now at&t) Center for Learning, most of the network tech training consisted of lecture and lab. That’s a good thing, as long as the lab exercises are real-life tasks, and it’s fairly easy to restore the system if a student screws up.

Back in ’97 I was lucky to be involved in the design of a telecom technician training simulation, that turned out like a video game. The tech was first instructed with animation how to use metering equipment and a little bit of theory (with quizlike questions interspersed), and then was given a job assignment in a virtual world. Assuming their truck was well equipped, they had to perform all the troubleshooting techniques and procedures required to solve the problem.

But the simulation program had to run on special Silicon Graphics machines, which SBC (now at&t) had to have an instructor travel around with on a truck. And once the monitoring equipment was upgraded (a frequent occurrence), the simulation became outdated. It was expensive to maintain.

Nowadays the game engines are so advanced that it’s cheaper to develop and much cheaper to distribute and maintain. Granted, the last games I’ve actively played/watched were:

  • Planescape Torment — a great RPG exploration of factions holding philosophies such as anarchy, hedonism, entropy, chaos, order, freethought, cabalism, and so on.
  • San Andreas — a stupendous playhouse of a first-person shooter/driver/dancer/whatever. My husband thinks that game companies should integrate all kinds of play, so you only have to have one world, but be able to play all kinds of games in it, including his favorites: golf, racing, and shooting.
  • Half-Life 2 — a groundbreaking sci-fi first-person shooter that gives the user control over so many unexpected items in the environment.

SecondLife looks interesting as a mechanism for developing such environments and training labs, where a gamer or trainee won’t hurt anything in the real world, and I’ll be watching to see what comes out of it.

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becoming certifiable in Webmastery

Posted by contentgrrl on November 3, 2007

I have learned so much on the job. But the more you know, the more you discover you don’t know. I am always discovering new gaps. When I need to fill those gaps to meet my long-term goals, and a book won’t cut it, sometimes a little more formal training is in order.

The International Webmasters Association partnered with the HTML Writers Guild to offer a certification program via eClasses.

I completed most of of the classes required for the Web Programming certificate, but the Design curriculum looks good as well.

In my case, each class required about 6-12 hours of work per week. Pretty standard online experience: register for membership, pay for class, buy the text, wait for class to begin, log on to read lectures & assignments, peruse classmates’ questions/answers (VERY USEFUL!) and assignments (EVEN MORE USEFUL!), post your own work, and wait for an acknowledgement from the instructor.

It doesn’t look bad on the wall, and it doesn’t look bad on the resume either.

I have to stress that you can’t plagiarize. You do your own work on the hands-on exercises, and the assignments are structured to encourage projects that will help you on the job, and will therefore be more individualized. And often the instructor’s feedback and comments from fellow students are very eye-opening.

At the time of this writing, course prices range from $80 to $270 or so, depending on whether you’re a member. Session durations range from 4-8 weeks, with a staggered schedule (new classes begin every week) rather than a semester-like schedule.

As of June 8, Rend Lake College (RLC) in Illinois offers the Webmaster certificate program online through a partnership with eClasses, and you can request 2 credit hours per course completed. (see 2nd link below)

RLC is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as an accredited institution by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Higher Learning Commission.

Always search the US DOE database if you’re concerned about accreditation and creditability.

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